Breaking down the Baltimore Ravens' 2018 draft class.
Round 1, No. 25 overall: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
My take: The Ravens were able to address their biggest need and get the highest-rated tight end while acquiring additional picks in the third and fourth rounds. Hurst can be a difference-maker for Baltimore because Joe Flacco loves throwing to tight ends, whether it's Todd Heap or Dennis Pitta or even 37-year-old Benjamin Watson (who led Baltimore in receptions this past season). Since entering the NFL in 2008, Flacco has targeted tight ends on 1,090 passes. Only Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Tom Brady have thrown more to tight ends. While Hurst's stats are underwhelming (three career touchdowns), he is a mismatch for linebackers as well as some safeties and is sure-handed. What really impressed the Ravens is his ability to run after the catch. Hurst can be an immediate playmaker for the NFL's No. 29 passing attack.
Fitting first pick for Newsome's finale: In what is Ozzie Newsome's final draft as Ravens general manager, it seems appropriate that the Hall of Fame tight end addressed that position in the first round. The Ravens have only used a first-round pick on a tight end once previously. Baltimore chose Heap with the No. 31 pick in the 2001 draft. Heap finished as the franchise's all-time leader in touchdown catches.
Pitcher turned pass-catcher: Hurst spent parts of three seasons as a minor league pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates. His baseball career ended when he lost the ability to throw a baseball for strikes -- or anywhere near its intended target. Hurst then walked on at South Carolina in the summer of 2015. That season, he played in 12 games, making eight catches for 106 yards. In 2016, he became the first sophomore captain in Gamecocks history and set school tight end records for catches (48) and receiving yards (616). Last year, he totaled 44 receptions for 559 yards and two touchdowns. Hurst is only going to get better despite being a 25-year-old rookie.
Trading back: Last year was only the second time Newsome didn't make a trade. He made up for lost time in 2018, trading back twice in the first round. The Ravens dropped back a total of nine spots from No. 16 to No. 25, getting additional picks in the third and fourth rounds. Baltimore gave up picks in the fifth and sixth rounds. The Ravens will get second-guessed for passing on safety Derwin James at No. 16 and wide receiver D.J. Moore at No. 22.
Round 1, No. 32 overall: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
My take: Surprise! The Ravens have selected a new franchise quarterback just four months after owner Steve Bisciotti scoffed at a question about the franchise preparing for life after Joe Flacco, saying the team has "bigger fish to fry." What changed? Baltimore couldn't pass on an electric talent like Lamar Jackson sitting at the end of the first round. One team official said Jackson is faster than Deshaun Watson and has just as strong of an arm. This presumably means Flacco will be playing in his final season for the Ravens, just six years removed from leading the franchise to a Super Bowl title. Flacco has struggled since being the Super Bowl MVP, producing an 82.1 passer rating (ranking 36th in the league). Jackson, the Heisman Trophy winner in 2016, is a touchdown machine. He reached the end zone 119 times (a school record), running for 50 and throwing for 69.
What Ravens gave to move back into first round: To get the Eagles' first-round pick, Baltimore traded two second-round picks (the No. 52 overall and a second-rounder in 2019) as well as the fourth-rounder (No. 125) acquired earlier from the Tennessee Titans. The Ravens get the No. 32 overall pick (which they used on Jackson) and the Eagles’ fourth-rounder (No. 132).
Newsome sets up Ravens for future: In his final draft as Ravens general manager, Newsome gave the franchise its next quarterback of the future. It's only the third time Newsome has used a first-round pick on a quarterback. In what was one of his worst moves, he selected Kyle Boller with the No. 19 overall pick in 2003. In what was one of his shrewdest maneuvers, Newsome traded back and then up for Flacco at No. 18 in 2008. Now, Newsome will have to negotiate with Jackson's agent, who just happens to be his mother.
Mr. Big Play: When he takes over for Flacco, Jackson will inject excitement into one of the most plodding offenses in the NFL. Unlike any quarterback in this draft, Jackson can use his 4.3-second speed to spin and outrun defenders on one play and launch a 70-yard pass on the next. Over the past two seasons, Jackson produced 117 pass plays of 20 yards or more, ranking seventh in FBS. His 126 runs of 10 yards or more over that span led all FBS players. This is what the Ravens offense desperately needs. Last season, Baltimore ranked last in the NFL with 37 plays of 20 or more yards.
Concern over accuracy: The key to whether Jackson succeeds is consistency and accuracy. He completed 57 percent of his throws for his career. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. described Jackson as an "in the area" thrower. The other habit he'll have to break is running if his first read isn't open. Jackson won't survive a full season running so often in the NFL.
Round 3, No. 83 overall: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
My take: Newsome makes a heartfelt selection -- and one that fills a big need -- by taking Orlando Brown Jr. with the No. 83 overall pick. Brown could start at the same right-tackle spot his father, “Zeus,” played 13 years ago. Brown Sr. started six seasons at right tackle for the Ravens and his son was frequently around the team. Orlando Brown Sr. died in September 2011 at age 40 from diabetic ketoacidosis. The Ravens moved back twice in the third round and were still able to get Brown, who slid from being a first-round prospect because of a disastrous NFL combine.
How he fits: Brown will compete with James Hurst for the starting right-tackle job. Baltimore has a void there after declining the option on Austin Howard, a 16-game starter last season. Brown looks like a first-round talent based on the eyeball test. He has a massive frame at 6-foot-8, 345 pounds, and has long arms, which is what teams want out of their edge blockers. But Brown is considered to have below-average athletic ability, which is why he struggled at the combine and saw his stock drop significantly.
Round 3, No. 86 overall: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
My take: The Ravens clearly thought tight end was their biggest need. After drafting Hayden Hurst in the first round, they selected Andrews with their second pick in the third round. It's the third time in team history that the Ravens took two tight ends in the same draft. It also marks the first time a team has drafted two tight ends in the first three rounds since the 2012 Colts did so with Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Andrews was Baker Mayfield’s favorite target and won the John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end. As a redshirt junior in 2017, Andrews caught a team-high 62 passes for 958 yards (15.5 yards per catch) and eight touchdowns. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 9, and wears an insulin pump on his right hip except for when he plays football.
How he fits: No team loves using tight ends more than Baltimore. Last season, the Ravens ran an NFL-high 583 plays with two or more tight ends. That was 136 more than any other team in the league. This explains why Baltimore drafted Andrews in addition to Hurst. While Hurst is considered a better blocker, Andrews is the more accomplished pass-catcher. Andrews has been described a big slot receiver. He does a great job of locating soft spots in zones and uses his size as a mismatch for defensive backs when he flexes out. Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said Andrews reminds him of former Baltimore tight end Dennis Pitta. "He's a guy with linear body who runs well and has very good hands," DeCosta said. "He makes the tough catch and is a very smart player."
Round 4, No. 118 overall: Anthony Averett, CB, Alabama
Prospect Profile: Anthony Averett
Former Alabama CB Anthony Averett plays with great instincts and excellent athleticism.
My take: Of course, Newsome was going to take an Alabama player in his final draft as Ravens general manager. Averett is the 10th Alabama player selected by Newsome; that’s the most Crimson Tide players for any team since 1997. Averett has another connection -- he’s the nephew of Bryant McKinnie, the starting left tackle on the Ravens’ 2012 Super Bowl team. He’s a solid cover corner. Averett doesn’t have great speed but reacts well to the ball.
How he fits: Averett provides depth at a position that the Ravens can’t have enough players. The Ravens have quality players at corner with the return of Jimmy Smith, Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr, Tavon Young, Maurice Canady and Jaylen Hill. But Smith and Young are coming off injuries, and Baltimore has had a history of running low on corners due to injuries. Averett has the potential to develop into a starter, but he can immediately help on special teams. He can cover kicks and play jammer on punt return.
Round 4, No. 122 overall: Kenny Young, ILB, UCLA
My take: Baltimore continues its trend of adding linebackers. Young is the fourth linebacker selected in the first four rounds by the Ravens in the past three drafts. He was rated as the 13th-best inside linebacker of the draft by Mel Kiper Jr. Young is a rangy, three-down linebacker who is more finesse than physical. The knock on him has been a lack of instincts and strength. He totaled 110 tackles, 8.5 for loss, one sack and three passes defensed last season.
How he fits: The Ravens have been looking for another inside linebacker to team with Pro Bowl linebacker C.J. Mosley since Zachary Orr abruptly retired at the end of the 2016 season. Baltimore went with undrafted Patrick Onwuasor to fill that spot this past year, but the Ravens want to upgrade. Young’s strength is his coverage ability, so he could help in passing situations against running backs and tight ends. Last year, the Ravens allowed opposing tight ends to catch 70 percent of their targets, which ranked 27th in the NFL.
Round 4, No. 132 overall: Jaleel Scott, WR, New Mexico State
Prospect Profile: Jaleel Scott
Jaleel Scott proved to be a deep-ball threat while playing receiver at New Mexico State.
My take: Scott is known for being extremely competitive when the ball is in the air and the 6-foot-5 receiver makes well-timed leaps to come down with the reception. This has been an area of frustration for Baltimore, especially last season. Ravens wide receivers caught 55 percent of their targets last year (29th in the NFL) and dropped 5.6 percent of the passes (29th). Drafting wide receivers have been troublesome for the Ravens. The seven wide receivers drafted from 2012 to 2017 have combined for just 1,283 yards in their careers, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
How he fits: Scott will compete to be the team’s No. 4 receiver. The Ravens revamped their wide receiver group this offseason. Baltimore’s top three receivers are free-agent additions Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead. All are short-term options. Baltimore is looking to add youth to this group, and Scott brings the most size. He could potentially help in the red zone after scoring 14 touchdowns in two seasons.
Round 5, No. 162 overall: Jordan Lasley, WR, UCLA
My take: Lasley is the best value pick for the Ravens. He’s got good size, great athleticism and impressive explosion. He was rated as the 81st-best prospect in this draft by Mel Kiper Jr. Why did he slide so much? His off-the-field problems resulted in multiple suspensions in his four years at UCLA. He was arrested twice in 2016 for possession of alcohol and presenting a fake ID at a club. Lasley also fought in practice with a teammate and then missed the team bus before a game. The Ravens have selected two UCLA players this year (linebacker Kenny Young was taken in the fourth round). Prior to this year, the Ravens had selected one UCLA player in team history: Hall of Fame offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden in the first round.
How he fits: The Ravens continue to bring in new targets for Joe Flacco. Lasley is the sixth addition at wide receiver this offseason. He has intriguing big-play potential after catching 69 passes for 1,264 yards and nine touchdowns last season from Josh Rosen. But Lasley has one of the worst drop rates over the past two seasons, which has been a major problem with Baltimore’s receivers.
Round 6, No. 190 overall: DeShon Elliott, S, Texas
My take: The Ravens get Mel Kiper’s 12th-rated safety in the sixth round. He finished the season with 13 plays on the ball, including six interceptions and seven passes broken up. That’s the second-most among FBS safeties, according to Pro Football Focus. He was a unanimous first-team All-American who has great football intelligence. But he can get turned around in coverage.
How he fits: Elliott can make the Ravens with his special-teams ability. He can eventually become an in-the-box safety or perhaps an inside linebacker.
Round 6, No. 212 overall: Greg Senat, OT, Wagner
Prospect Profile: Deadrin Senat
Former South Florida DT Deadrin Senat excels against blockers in the run game and has a solid motor.
My take: The first player ever drafted from Wagner played four seasons of basketball before joining the football team in his final season. The 6-foot-6 Senat was originally going to play tight end, but he agreed to line up at right tackle because coaches believe that was his best position. He was rated as the 19th-best offensive tackle in this draft by Mel Kiper Jr.
How he fits: Senat is a project who needs to add bulk. He projects to be a practice-squad player who needs more experience and strength.
Round 6, No. 215 overall: Bradley Bozeman, C, Alabama
My take: This marks the first time the Ravens have drafted three offensive linemen in the same draft. Not surprisingly, Newsome takes another Alabama player. Bozeman is the 11th Crimson Tide player Newsome has taken in his 23 drafts. He’s considered big and gritty, but limited athletically.
How he fits: Center was one of the Ravens’ top needs entering this draft after Ryan Jensen became the highest-paid player at that position by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency. Bozeman might need time before he can compete for a starting job. He has been projected to be a low-level starter. But it was only five years ago when Baltimore selected Jensen in the sixth round.
Round 7, No. 238 overall: Zach Sieler, DE, Ferris State
My take: Sieler is the first player to be drafted from Ferris State. But he will be forever remembered for something else: Newsome’s final pick in his last draft as Ravens general manager. He was one inch away from being what the Ravens call a special “30-30-30” player. That means Sieler scored 30 or above on the Wonderlic, recorded 30 or more lifts on the bench press and totaled 30 or more inches on the vertical leap.
How he fits: The Ravens see Sieler as a prototypical defensive end in their 3-4 defense. That’s been a trouble spot for Baltimore recently despite drafting three players for that role in the first four rounds over the past four years. Brent Urban has had trouble staying healthy, Bronson Kaufusi disappointed last season and Chris Wormley didn't get much playing time as a rookie.